I have some exciting news to share! My latest study on techniques for learning how to have lucid dreams has finally just been published!
Not only is this the largest study that I've done in this area of research, it's also the largest study that anyone has ever conducted on techniques for learning lucid dreaming, and so this is a really significant moment both for me personally and for lucid dreaming science in general!
The study is called the International Lucid Dream Induction Study (ILDIS) and it took me three years to bring these findings to the world. This included recruiting all the participants, gathering data, analysing the findings, and now having the paper accepted for publication.
One of the cool things about this publication is that it's Open Access, which means that unlike many other scientific papers, for this one you can actually download a full copy free of charge. So, if you would like to read the full paper and see exactly what I did and read the full descriptions of all the techniques, please feel free to do so by clicking this link. Having said that, like many scientific papers this one is a bit dense at times. There's a lot of technical details and statistical tests, and so I'm going to share some of the most interesting findings in this video in a way that's a little bit more accessible.
So, what did I actually do?
The study went for two weeks, and it started with an initial questionnaire. Then, people recorded their baseline sleep and dreaming characteristics using a logbook each morning. This gave me a sense of their baseline normal patterns without doing any techniques. Then for the second week of the study, I randomly allocated people to one of six different groups that all involved different combinations of lucid dreaming techniques. If you do read the full paper, you'll see that I was very careful and deliberate in which combinations I chose in order to learn as much as possible about how these techniques work and which ones are the best to use. For the second week of the study people continued to record their sleep and their dreams using a logbook each morning, allowing me to compare the success rate while doing the techniques in the second week compared to their typical sleep and dreaming patterns in the first week.
So that's the basic method of the study, but what did I find?
One of the findings was that a commonly practiced technique called the Mnemonic Induction of Lucid Dreams technique, or MILD for short, was effective for learning lucid dreams. People had a success rate of about 17% of attempts, or one out of every six nights that they practiced. This replicates several other earlier studies, and this makes the MILD technique the most evidence-based technique for learning lucid dreams available today. If you're new to lucid dreaming and you haven't done any techniques, this is a great place to start.
Another widely practiced technique is called reality testing, and surprisingly, in this study I found that reality testing actually wasn't very effective for learning lucid dreams. People who did the MILD technique by itself actually had about the same success rate as people that did the MILD technique at night combined with reality testing during the day. What this shows, is that at least for beginners or at least for a short period of time like in my current study (one week), it doesn't actually help that much to do reality tests. This doesn't mean that reality testing isn’t useful at all, but I wouldn't use it as your primary technique for learning how to have lucid dreams. Instead, you should think about this as a supplementary technique that helps you to become more mindful of your environment, and as a way to practice the habit of checking to see if you're dreaming or not every time you think you might be dreaming.
A third really interesting finding from the study is about a new technique called the Senses Initiated Lucid Dreams technique (SSILD). This is a widely practiced technique, but it had never been studied before. This is a bit of a problem because if you don't study techniques scientifically it's hard to know exactly how effective they really are. Expectation effects play a big role in learning how to have lucid dreams. If one person does a technique and believes that it will work, they might have success. However, another person who doesn't have that same expectation might not be successful if it's not an intrinsically effective technique. Fortunately, we now know that the Senses Initiated Lucid Dreams technique (SSILD for short) is just as effective as the MILD technique. In fact, the success rate was almost identical at about 17% of attempts. So, if you've done other techniques before but you haven't tried SSILD, this is a great one to experiment with.
Okay, so those were three main techniques that I looked at, but what about factors to further improve the success rate? I looked at things like the number of technique repetitions and the amount of time that people spent on the techniques each night, and surprisingly, these factors weren't very important for success. What was important, was being able to complete the techniques and then fall asleep within about ten minutes of finishing them. In fact, people who were able to do this had about 65% more lucid dreams than when they either fell asleep while doing the techniques or when they took longer than 10 minutes to fall asleep after completing the MILD technique or the SSILD technique. This means that if you're going to use these techniques, it's important to think about ways to make it easier for you to fall asleep quickly after you do the techniques to maximise your chances of success.
Now on the point of learning lucid dreaming, I'm going to take this opportunity to mention that I do have a Six-Week Lucid Dreaming Video Course available. One of the cool things about this course is that it doesn't just give you a collection of techniques to try. It actually gives you a system to experiment with several different techniques using the same logbooks I used in my scientific paper, allowing you to identify which techniques work best for you and to then tailor them to your own unique sleep and dreaming characteristics. It'll also show you how to build your own personalised lucid dreaming training program that will fit in with whatever your work schedule is, so that you don't lose out on sleep. You can find out more about the course by clicking here.
Okay, now on the topic of sleep, one of the other findings from my study is that fortunately, there was no negative impact on sleep from learning how to have lucid dreams. In fact, people had slightly better sleep in the second week of the study when they did techniques compared to in the first week of the study. The only caveat that I would add to this, is that in the second week when people successfully had a lucid dream, their sleep quality was slightly higher than on the nights when they didn't have a successful attempt at inducing lucid dreams. However, the difference was extremely small. Self-rated sleep quality was 3.6 out of 5 on successful nights, and it was 3.4 when there was no lucid dreaming, so it's a very small difference. And there was no difference in tiredness upon waking or the overall length of time that people spent sleeping. So as long as you take steps to give yourself a bit of extra time to sleep in in the morning, and you try to fall asleep as quickly as you can after doing the techniques, you should be able to learn lucid dreaming without having any significant impact on your sleep quality.
The final finding that I'm going to share with you today was about another predictor of success: general dream recall ability. People who had higher general dream recall were generally more successful at learning how to have lucid dreams as well, and so if you're learning lucid dreaming a great place to start is by building your ability to remember your dreams each morning. I'd recommend that you aim to recall at least one dream most mornings during the week before you go on to do techniques like MILD and SSILD. Fortunately, there are many ways to improve your dream recall.
Ok, so those are some of the main findings from the study! If you'd like to read more about it, you can access the full paper using this link. If you would like to learn lucid dreaming, you can check out my Six-Week Video Course by clicking here. Finally, if you are interested in following my work, including any future studies that I conduct, you can subscribe to my email list and stay in the loop with any of my future projects.
Thank you for watching this video, and I will see you next time!